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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Mark Adams, 1969
Howard Street Tunnel
Inventory No.: B-79
Date Listed: 7/2/1973
Location: Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: 1890-1895
Description: The Howard Street Tunnel provides for an underground rail connection beneath Howard Street between the Mount Royal and Camden Stations of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The tunnel measures 7,341 feet in length, 21 feet in height, and 29 feet in width, and is placed between 50 and 65 feet below grade. The side walls are constructed of brick for 5900 feet of its length, and of cut stone for the remainder. The portals are also of cut stone. Iron rings shaped to conform to the tunnel arch were used as centerings in the construction of the structure. The roof is shaped in an inverted arch and the flooring is a flat reverse arch providing additional strength to the side walls. Originally housing a double track, the tunnel now contains a single track, built at an 0.8% upgrade from Camden Station, and is still in use today. Located adjacent to the line near South Howard between Montgomery and Henrietta Streets, the Belt Railroad Powerhouse originally housed the generators which powered the General Electric locomotives used to tow northbound trains through the tunnel. The powerhouse was originally fitted with five E.P. Allis 500 KW engine-generators plus several lighting dynamos. The Powerhouse is an exceptionally tall, one-story, L-shaped brick building with a slate gable roof. There are pent roofs extending the length of the north and south gable ends. The building is 21 bays from north to south. The bulk of the structure is two bays wide, except for the southern end which is three bays wide. This section originally housed the generator’s boilers. The northwest corner of the building appears to have been truncated. The building has a simple brick cornice and a stepped brick watertable. The windows and doorways have brick relieving arches. Each bay is enclosed by a set of brick piers on either side. Above, they are enclosed by corbelling. Significance: The Howard Street Tunnel is a monument in the history of American engineering. The construction of the 7,341-foot tunnel through soft ground under a busy street, and the innovational use of electricity for illumination and for powering the tunnel locomotives, represent an outstanding accomplishment for its time.


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